Category Archives: Norovirus

Norovirus: how to stop repeat outbreaks before they start

Norovirus misery
Being sick is bad enough, even worse with a norovirus repeat, over and over again. Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

Norovirus, ugh! Not only does it feel like the end of the world – seems nothing can stop the dreaded repeat outbreak.

Repeat, repeat and repeat – it boomerangs back and back again. Highly contagious, seriously pernicious – despite the most meticulous deep clean procedures.

Which either means it really IS impossible to beat. Or whatever we’re doing to stop it simply isn’t good enough.

Harsh truth when a thorough job usually involves ripping the place apart. Head-blowing bleach stink with hard scrubbing everywhere for hours – and STILL the bug comes back again.

Know your enemy

Yes, but norovirus is no ordinary stomach bug. It’s the ultimate survivor.

For a start, it only takes ten microscopic particles of the virus to start an infection. Compare that with flu, at maybe between ten and forty times that – and you’re looking at a much more vicious enemy.

Vicious is right.

It’s also why norovirus is so violent – crippling cramps, projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhoea.

Exactly right to spread itself as far and wide as possible – the widest opportunity to start new infections with any newcomers who unsuspectingly chance along.

Plus of course, it might only infect on contact – but it DISPERSES through the air.

Well sure, each particle is barely 2 microns across – light enough to ride the air currents in any room for hours or days. Breathe in just ten of them through your mouth, swallow – and chances are you’ll be hanging onto the loo in utter misery, just 12 hours from now.

And those horrid upchucks?

Yes gruesome, but think of how far they reach and spread.

Across the impact area on the furniture and floor, obviously. Exactly the right place to move in with mop and bucket. But how about underneath? Or behind?

And those are just the big gobs of stuff.

How about the individual particles swirling around – settling everywhere or still riding the breeze? Reach those with sponge or squeegee too?

Wipe down the surfaces, yes – but how about in the coils of power cables, or down the back of electronic equipment? How about the sheets of paper lying on the nearest table – the first thing to be removed by unthinking hands?

The floors get scrubbed. The walls too. Every surface is rubbed down within an inch of its life.

But seldom underneath. And seldom in those hard-to-reach places that nobody thinks about. Cracks, crevices – tiny places where a 2 micron particle might survive for weeks on end.

Which means deep clean or not – the infection never went away in the first place.

Start using the room again, and those norovirus particles are only too ready to come out and do their thing. Not gone. And certainly not forgotten. Repeat, repeat and repeat.

Not good enough

And anyhow, how effective is the stuff we’re using?

That bleach solution might be strong enough to rip your head off, but how does it stack up against a survivor like norovirus? A wipe with even a concentrated solution won’t crack it – to kill norovirus, bleach has to be in continuous contact for at least TWENTY minutes.

So even though a surface is treated, it still might not be safe.

Same thing with steam.

You can give yourself a nasty burn if your not careful. But to kill norovirus, even that kind of heat takes TWO minutes of constant contact or more to do the job. Like bacteria, viruses can survive in the frozen Antarctic, or live happily in a seething volcano. What’s a little steam bath, now and then?

And how are you applying it? With a waving hosepipe?

Well, yes. Because if you did apply superhot steam to everything continuously for two minutes, it would be sodden through and probably useless – shorted out or fused, if it’s anything electric.

And have you seen what bleach does to surfaces with prolonged contact? Shrivelled up or corroded very quickly.

Which puts us where? Hours of work down the drain and the bug still present. Repeat, repeat and repeat.

We think we’re safe, but norovirus is just biding its time. Ready for its repeat performance, just when you thought it was safe.

Money, money, money – not just health

Don’t worry, we’re not the only ones. How about an expensive investment like a cruise ship? Hundreds of passengers, sick and ready to sue.

Thousands down the drain and STILL norovirus comes back – like Fred Olsen Line’s Balmoral, struck down SIX times since 2009.

Or Holland America Line’s Caribbean cruise liner Amsterdam – having to cancel four trips in succession because of repeat outbreaks in 1982.   It got so bad, the ship had to be taken out of service to ensure thorough decontamination – and new passengers were even warned before embarking that the ship had previously had problems it couldn’t get rid of.

All of which says, if you want to get rid of norovirus, there’s no pussy-footing around.

Conventional cleaning just won’t work. And that’s all it is anyway – cleaning.

It’s not actually sterilising – making germs dead, so they can’t infect anything.

Repeat, repeat and repeat

The job’s not done and norovirus is still lurking.

OK, so get unconventional.

Think killing germs, not just cleaning.

Especially getting to the airborne stuff that never gets treated anyway. Yet 80% of pretty well every room we live in is nothing else!

You can throw technology at it, like ultraviolet radiation – that will at least do something.

But there’s a downside to that too. Light can’t go round corners, unless you have lots of mirrors. So blitzing a room with UV means either a lot of exposures in different positions – or manhandling great unwieldy pieces of shiny metal (glass would break).

Oh and yes – a variation on the contact time. The potency of UV as a germ-killer falls off rapidly with distance from the light source. Unless everything’s within about ten feet, those pesky norovirus particles won’t be cashing in their chips just yet.

Which leaves fogging.

Like the insect control people do when they fumigate a house – pump a load of germ-killer into the air and let it swirl around. The usual choice is hydrogen peroxide, an effective germ killer and less toxic than most alternatives.

But also fraught with a few problems.

Just getting it into the air doesn’t make it reach behind, underneath or on top of things. There’s nothing to push it into cracks or crevices either.

It will kill the germs alright, norovirus included. But without effective dispersal to reach everywhere, there’s still nothing to prevent repeat outbreaks.

And just consider fogging the place up with a vapour. Lots of moisture to play havoc with sensitive equipment and paper. Enough that a second machine is necessary alongside the fogging one – to dry everything out after the vapour has done its work.

Plus there’s the old question of contact time. As a vapour the stuff is heavier than air, so doesn’t stay airborne long.

To compensate, a strong solution is necessary – 32%, about the maximum permissible without being totally toxic. Yes it kills, but it’s also pretty corrosive – not good on plastics or sensitive surfaces – and certainly not good for computers.

So what, repeat norovirus outbreaks are inevitable – even with technology?

The RIGHT technology

Depends on the technology.

Because it IS possible to mist up the place with a safe solution of just 6% hydrogen peroxide. And have it spread everywhere by ionising it – so it tries to escape from itself, yet reaches out and clamps hold of germs as it does so.

Contact time is less than 2 minutes – because ionising changes the stuff into a plasma, which multiplies its oxidising power several times over. Forty minutes tops, and the whole place is sterile – no germs anywhere, not even norovirus – repeat or no repeat.

OK, yes, this a blatant plug. But if you’re as sick of one norovirus repeat after another as we are, you’ll be glad to know there’s a system that works.

And not just on norovirus either – on everything.

Your way of giving germs the same dirty treatment they give you.

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Reference links checked and working at time of posting.  However, some URLs may be taken down or re-sited later. If your link goes nowhere or you get an Error 404 message, please accept our apologies.

What’s your crisis plan for Aussie flu, or other business health threat?

Send hime home
Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Send anyone infected home.

Your plan had better be good. Once these things get started, they go round like wildfire.

Half your office, out in one go. A whole team, down for weeks.

And just maybe a law suit, because you didn’t protect your team enough.

Plan, or else

Sure, flu jabs. Except it’s common knowledge this year’s vaccine is only 20% effective against the killer H3N2 strain. Lots of refusals from people who don’t want stuff injected into their bodies if it isn’t going to work.

What if it’s not Aussie flu, but the Japanese B / Yamagata strain – and the vaccine’s not available yet?

Or not flu at all, but some other illness that snuck in while everyone was looking elsewhere?

Can’t plan for everything? Quite true, you can’t – there’s no controlling anything your team might have picked up outside.

But again it’s common knowledge most offices are germ factories. Everybody all close together in the same space. Exposed to each other for hours, touching the same things, breathing the same air.

Just one person comes down with something and the ripple effect can last for months. Round and round, infecting and re-infecting each other. Enough to bring the whole business down, how do you plan for that?

You HAVE got a plan, right?

Not just flu

Like if it’s legionnaire’s disease, protecting your team is legally part of your duty of care. Not a virus, but a bacteria – legionella pneumophila. As its name suggests, an illness very much like pneumonia, which is where H3N2 can lead to if it gets out of control. And pneumonia is deadly – killing 50 million people back in 1918, the world’s worst ever epidemic.

But yes, legionnaire’s disease. One of a list of about 30 diseases you are legally required to shield your team from. It breeds in water systems and air conditioning units, but is breathed in from the air.

Gloss over taking precautions and the Health & Safety people will be all over you – a £1 million fine for Stoke-on-Trent based JTF Wholesale last year. Enough to put you out of business.

Getting sued of course is only part of it. Which is why having a plan is so crucial. What does it do to your business to have a load of people out of action all at once? And how do you contain infection from the handful you have left, holding the fort?

A big thanks to all our readers

This post today is our 500th  since we started, appropriately enough with How I Survived When Germs Killed My Business. Thank you for your support and interest, it’s people like you who keep us alive.

If nothing else, make your plan insist on one thing.

First sign of anyone being the slightest bit unwell, SEND THEM HOME.

They’re useless to you at work anyway – unable to concentrate, fighting an uphill battle with their bodies, spreading contagion to everyone else.

SEND THEM HOME and don’t let them log on either. They need to get better – and worrying about work stuff is only going to delay that. Paracetamol, rest – and at worst, mindless daytime television are about all they’re capable of handling. Let them be.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, you’ve got some rear-guarding to do.

Time for Plan B

Because the smitten ones might be gone, but not the germs they leave behind. And germs can survive in warm centrally-heated offices for weeks at a time.

Some of them might be airborne, swirled around in the continuously circulating air. Others lurk on surfaces, waiting to infect – on high-touch objects like keypads, touchscreens, light switches and control buttons. On all the other things people use too – documents, pens, keys, money, phones, handbags, wallets, clothing.

Better get your cleaning service on it, Priority One. Not just a wipe-down, but a deep clean. Give it the works, to take out everything that might hit you, not just Aussie flu.

Norovirus for instance gets everywhere and keeps bouncing back if not clobbered hard enough. The violent vomiting it causes is not just gruesome, it deliberately spreads tiny particles of itself everywhere, every little crack and crevice. Miss any out and it’ll be back, surer than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Better still, not just a deep clean but actually sterilise the place. Make it so that all germs are gone completely. No Aussie flu, no legionnaire’s disease, no norovirus, no nothing – the only way to make 100% sure your team don’t catch anything.

Other than that, sit tight and wait for everybody to get better.

Kick in that other plan you have too. The one for dire emergencies. Like what to do when your building has a fire, a power-out loses your data, or floods stop you getting near for few months. If you need to know how to set one up, Newcastle City Council have a blueprint right here.

Good luck with everything. See you in summer when this is all over.

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

It’s up to us now – if we don’t each of us help the NHS, nobody else will

Doctors warning - help the NHS
The writing’s on the wall – help the NHS, or we’ll all go down together

Forget the headlines and the soundbites – the only people who can help the NHS now are ourselves.

Never mind WHY there’s a crisis, if we all of us do our bit, we can get through this together.

First off, the NHS are right – don’t get ill. We’ve got to stop running to them unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Help the NHS – no more chances

There’s too many of us otherwise. Our numbers just swamp the place.

So we’ve got to stop making ourselves ill. Taking chances with our health that don’t do us any good.

Like our dodgy hygiene – we’re really lousy at keeping ourselves clean.

OK, we can’t see germs, so we can be excused for thinking that we don’t LOOK dirty.

We know about germs though, and the kind of precautions we should take.

But because we LOOK OK, we don’t do anything – and we hate being nannied about it.

None of which will help the NHS.

With an Aussie flu epidemic about to hit, on top of the usual winter tsunami, being precious about washing our hands is not exactly useful.

Especially when our track record is so iffy:

Ugh, the winter vomiting bug

Which gets really crazy when you think of the winter vomiting bug.

Norovirus is highly infectious and spreads on contact. Yet nine times out of ten, if ever we come down with it, we always blame the restaurant or fast food outlet of food poisoning.

Sure, the vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps are so bad, we have to blame it on someone. It’s just extra hard to swallow that we caused it ourselves.

None of which can help the NHS when we show up, moaning and groaning. Norovirus is the one thing that can go round everywhere like wildfire – the last thing they need on top of the winter flood of patients and Aussie flu.

How are we so sure that norovirus is usually self inflicted?

It’s not just the poor washing of hands, it’s whether they’re washed at all.

Think about your day, from the time you left for work, to the time you meet your friends for dinner at the pizza  joint.

Think about the things you’ve touched that other people touch as well – the heavy traffic hand contacts everybody else makes, also without washing their hands.

Door handles, light switches, keypads, money, keys, hand rails, grab handles for instance. When do those things ever get cleaned – and how germified are they before you touch them?

Follow that with a whole day at the office, with perhaps 2 or 3 trips to the loo, and just maybe you’re also in that gruesome 62% or 40%. Yes, it’s possible. You do the whole day and show up for eats, without even washing once.

And then you order a double pepperoni and pineapple – which you EAT WITH YOUR HANDS.

So where does the food poisoning come from – out of the pizza oven, or off your own fingers?

Same thing with burgers, chicken drumsticks, kebabs, hot dogs, chips, bacon butties and anything else you munch on the go.

Finger lickin’ good, sure. And finger lickin’ norovirus, e.coli, campylobacter, salmonella or whatever else you swallowed at the same time.

Soap and water and safe

Yet all it takes – to help the NHS and spare yourself the agony – is a short session with soap and water. Always before food and always after the loo.

The same five minutes should help you duck the Aussie flu too. Because, yes, it’s airborne, but mostly spread on contact. Those gobs of snot and dribble are too heavy to stay up for long. Keep your hands and face clean and you can avoid them altogether.

Which is exactly how best to help the NHS.

Avoidance.

Don’t get ill in the first place, and the four-hour misery of A&E never happens. You never have to worry about getting a bed, or a possible appointment with the Grim Reaper in the corridor.

You do your bit – and everybody else does theirs – suddenly the NHS stands a fighting chance.

No more slagging them off. That belongs to the politicians, who can’t keep their mitts off, pretending to organise things. They’re not doctors, and they’re not managers – so what would they ever know about running a health service?

They’re the mob who shut down all the care homes, so the old folks have no place to go except stay in their hospital bed. The same mob who contracted local doctors so they’re no longer on call – and don’t work evenings or weekends either.

Want to see your GP? Sorry, on the golf course, come back next week.

See your Westminster wunderkind

All of which means contact your local party wunderkind and give them hell. All those people crowding into the NHS are their doing and it’s up to them to stop things.

And if you really want to help the NHS, make them think about the future too, not just the votes they’ll lose next time we go to the ballot box. Because if this winter’s NHS crisis looks bad, get ready for Armageddon in ten years’ time.

According to Dr Dame Sally Davies, England Chief Medical Officer, two calamities are coming that make Aussie flu look like child’s play.

The first is antibiotic resistance. Those wonder-drugs that make modern medicine such a miracle are rapidly becoming useless. The bacteria they’re up against have mutated themselves into immunity. All of a sudden, basic surgery isn’t possible any more – no heart bypasses, no hip replacements, no C-section births. You could even die from a paper cut.

Worse still, there’s no replacement. Nothing in the pipeline. The medicine cupboard is bare ands we’re back to the Dark Ages.

The second is obesity. Already two-thirds of us are either fat or obese – and a third of our kids too. All set for the slippery slope to asthma, type 2 diabetes, possible amputations, heart disease and cancer. Unless something is done quick, 30 million of us are going to die – long, slow and agonising – half the population of UK.

The politicians are doing nothing about these either. Still thinking about lunch, their picture in the paper, and a salary equivalent to five nurses.

So, want to help the NHS?

Lay it on the line to your local wunderkind – do something now, before it’s too late.

Oh, and keep your hands clean while you’re doing it. It could save your life.

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

How to get a sure-fire norovirus ALL CLEAR

Chef highsigns OK
No norovirus, or any other germs either – they’re ALL gone – the difference between clean and safe

Dead dodgy, norovirus is. Keeps coming back whatever you do. So getting an All Clear is a mission.

It doesn’t have to be.

Once the first level clean up is done, it should be quick and easy.

The trick is to be thorough.

Norovirus is adept at spreading itself as wide as possible to secure its survival.

Microscopically safe – or not at all

Getting rid of it has to be equally thorough. Not just treating surface areas, but everywhere.

Right there is why so many clean-ups fail.

If things look fresh and scrubbed, we think they are. But norovirus is a germ not even 2 microns across – a ten thousandth the width of a human hair. Against threats that small, judging by appearance is useless.

So is thinking that ordinary rubbing and scrubbing will do the job.

Yes, it’s necessary to get everything disinfected and clean.

Remember how violent norovirus is though? How it makes people double up in pain before convulsing with puke? Projectile vomiting, that’s called – one of the many ways norovirus spreads itself.

So tiny – and so forcibly ejected – it rides the air maybe 100 feet from where it started. Swirling on the smallest drafts or swish of movement, it’s carried even further- lighter than the air molecules around it. Sometimes staying airborne, sometimes settling as far away as it can get, working its way into the most microscopic cracks and crevices, determined to survive.

The ultimate survivor

And survive it does. Inside our bodies for as long as two weeks after we’ve started feeling better.  And outside our bodies for even longer.

Which means, miss a bit when cleaning – and norovirus comes roaring back just as everybody thinks it’s all clear. On top of which, it’s extremely potent – which why the National Geographic calls it “puked perfection“. Only 10 particles are enough to infect anyone, versus 4 times that for most other pathogens.

So miss just the remotest area – and you’re going to get it!

OK, so getting rid of it needs something with the same kind of spread-everywhere dispersal of norovirus itself – and that kills quickly. Something that reaches the outer limits – plus into all the nooks and crannies – without losing firepower in doing so.

Which right away rules out bleach. Sure, it’s potent enough to do the job – but you have to dilute it first – otherwise, it’s so strong it’ll do YOU damage. Say 10 tablespoons to a gallon of water is usual – that’s barely 6%. And to work at that strength, it has to be in contact for 30 minutes or more – if you can somehow squeeze it into all of those tiny cracks.

It rules out steam too. To be effective, steam has to be in contact for at least 2 minutes  at 121⁰C – not good with sensitive equipment or electrics – and soaking everything around it in the process. And germs LIKE warm damp.

Gone in 30 seconds

But 6% is exactly right for another high-powered germ-destroyer – ionised hydrogen peroxide (iHP). Deliver it in contact with any germ, and all it needs is around 30 seconds. The do-able ALL CLEAR .

6%? 30 seconds? We’re kidding, right?

Well, no – because it’s ionised. Forced to change its state from a gas to a plasma by a neat mobile dispensing unit called a Hypersteriliser.

Ionising hits three crucial objectives, bullseye.

One, it charges every particle of hydrogen peroxide, driving it to escape from itself. This forcibly disperses it, spreading in all directions and ramming itself hard against everything it comes across.

Two, only 6% in strength, its molecules are also tiny, equally able to ride the air. They force themselves into the same cracks as the norovirus – which can run, but it can’t hide.

Three, ionising turbo-boosts that 6% to hundreds of times the firepower. By releasing other antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet. Less than 30 seconds contact time? Prepare for some very dead norovirus, cells ripped apart, utterly destroyed.

Allow about 40 minutes for the hydrogen peroxide to disperse fully, eliminate ALL germs (not just norovirus) and safely revert to oxygen and a small amount of water, which evaporates. Now vent the room, open the windows, turn on the fan, or simply let everything dissipate.

Time for that ALL CLEAR. And that pesky norovirus is not coming back either.

ALL CLEAR, safe and secure.

Picture Copyright: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

Woohoo, back to school! But norovirus says NO

Crosspatch at gate
School’s closed because norovirus keeps coming back and back – why can’t somebody DO something?

No school, no friends, no play, no fun.

Just staying at home, feeling horrid.

A whole week after that nasty tummy bug. Sick like your whole insides want to come out. Fiery poo, squirting round like a hosepipe. Cramps like your tummy is broken into little pieces, all churning round.

Quarantine, Mummy calls it. But I’ve been OK for days now.

It’s because they can’t get the school clean.

Cheap cleanups won’t stop norovirus coming back

Those two Year 6 boys were sick all over the place – all down the corridor and right through Reception. It was on the carpet and splattered up the walls.

Then that stupid Mrs Ferguson let her class out and they ran all over it. Just the smell was enough to make you sick.

But being home and suddenly sick was worse. Just going to play with my Pokemon and my tummy exploded.

I cried ‘cos it went everywhere and Mummy made us all stay home. Even Daddy never went to work.

Anyway the holidays were horrible – and now school is closed. Why can’t they clean it properly?

Mrs Callum, she’s the bursar, told Mummy they had a whole team in over the break. Face masks, overalls and rubber boots, scrubbing everything with that ewey bleach stuff.

It didn’t work ‘cos the caretaker, Mr Absun, went in there and got sick, working in the hall. So Mrs Callum got cross and they had to do it again – then SHE got sick after going in to have a look.

Keeping paying until it’s right

Mummy says that’s when the Council sent in the steam cleaners.

Two days they were at it, then Mrs Callum got sick AGAIN. So now the school’s in quarantine, just like I am at home. They’re leaving it 10 days for all the germs to go away.

Except Mummy says that won’t work either – she looked it up on her iPad and this norovirus stuff can last for up to a month if they don’t clean it off properly. You pick it up on your fingers and pouf – it’s back!

Meanwhile I’m sitting at home every day and I’m bored. And Mummy’s very nice staying here to look after me – but she doesn’t want to be here either. What’s the matter with them, why can’t they make it go away?

Because it goes everywhere, Mummy says. In all the cracks where the cleaners can’t reach.

And I know she and Daddy are cross, because the school has asked them for money to pay for it. Daddy had his fierce look, asking why they should pay for something that doesn’t work. He wanted to throw things, but Mummy took them away from him.

Every year, again and again

It was the same last year when Linda Marshall came back from that holiday in the Caribbean. Their family got sick on a cruise ship and brought it back with them. Daddy got cross then too, ‘cos I didn’t get it, but Damon did – my younger brother in Linda’s class.

Daddy’s really fed up. Says the school should have something to cope with stuff like this. Or the Council should. It’s not like this tummy sickness happens every day – but three-four times a year somebody sicks up at school, then we all get sick or have to stay away, and nobody does anything.

They need a machine, Daddy says. Something that you press a button and it makes all the germs go away.* Otherwise they’ll keep paying money and nothing ever happens.

Oh I wish that school would open and I can play with my friends again!

*There IS a machine – and you can see it here. It kills all germs everywhere indoors in about 40 minutes. Sterile, so they can’t come back again. Grabbed out of their hiding places and oxidised to nothing by hydrogen peroxide.

Picture Copyright: dekanaryas / 123RF Stock Photo and corund / 123RF Stock Photo

Norovirus germonomics: avoid the massive costs of repeat deep cleans

School closed
Harsh germonomics: deep clean £12,000, second deep clean £12,000, steam clean £10,000 – where will it end?

It’s a financial nightmare. A school or public building shut down by norovirus. Seldom, if ever budgeted. Expensive because it keeps coming back. A hard lesson in germonomics.

Keeps coming back?

Time and again, that’s the curse of it.

All the costs of a shut down, staff and parents up in arms. The deep clean team going in. Scrubbing the whole place from top to bottom. Thankfully re-opening. And the first child vomiting and moaning within half a day.

Hard germonomics

Makes us learn the hard way, norovirus does. Totally unforgiving – ready to boomerang again and again if we let it.

Because of the way it works.

Projectile vomiting that spreads everywhere – far beyond any accident points. Microscopic globules riding the air, reaching into the darkest corners.

The same with its diarrhoea – violent and explosive, dispersing to places we don’t want to know. Unreachable, un-get-at-able – which means un-cleanable. So that any clear up, however professional, doesn’t really stand a chance.

Sure the bleach is strong and potent. Corrosive too and unpleasant to use. So strong it has to be diluted to use – less effective, under-powered, not really performing.

10 – 20 minutes contact time it needs, according to the US Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Plus if it’s a steam clean – 60 seconds exposure at above 100⁰C.

Impossible, right?

Put bleach on something for 10 minutes, it will shrivel to nothing.  And a minute’s applied heat above boiling point? Near destruction if that kind of exposure were even possible.

Lots of rub and scrub – and none of it reaches into the cracks and crevices that norovirus deliberately causes us our bodies to explode itself into to ensure it survives.

Not good enough

Result? Deep clean job done, but the place is still contaminated. $15,000 it cost this school in southern California – £12,000 in real money.

And what kind of school can afford that?

Especially if it has to be done again. And another steam clean on top of it?

Which makes it, what – £30,000? £40,000?

Exactly the kind of cost this school on the Isle of Man are facing from their pre-Easter outbreak.

And exactly the kind of cost we face here from this potent illness that so easily breaks out – possibly FROM A SINGLE CHILD NOT WASHING THEIR HANDS.

A never event, right?

It’s not going to happen – because it hasn’t happened yet. But we’ll know all about it when it does.

Preventable

Except it’s all largely preventable – even avoidable all together with the right preparation.

Because what kills norovirus better than bleach?

Hydrogen peroxide – the same stuff our own bodies make to fight infections.  Disinfectant, teeth whitener and beauty secret of blondes. Two minutes contact time with that stuff and norovirus is extinct. Germonomics in action.

Not just ordinary hydrogen peroxide either. But boosted with silver – another known natural germ-fighter – and ionised into a spray, so it’s an electrically charged mist.

All charged the same, the ionised particles actively push to escape each other – forcibly driving themselves in all directions. Lighter than air, they fill all room space, pushing hard against surfaces and deep into cracks – exactly where the norovirus cells are hiding.

No chance of survival

Like a magnet, that same charge grabs at oppositely-charged norovirus cells, clamping to them in a death-hold. Allowing 40 minutes dispersal time for the average room and the whole place is sterile – no germs of any kind, anywhere.

No norovirus, no colds or flu virus – no TB, no pneumonia, no diphtheria, no poliomyelitis – nothing.

No bacteria, no mould or fungus either. Sterile means sterile – all organisms dead.

And all achievable with an all-automatic machine that costs just a few hundred pounds to operate.

Even less that that too – if it’s not putting down emergencies.

Just a few pounds a day on top of regular cleaning schedules and the daily germ threshold is reduced to zero. Every morning, when the children arrive, there’s no germs anywhere.

No panics to pay for. No re-dos. No hidden costs or unexpected surprises – the plus side of germonomics.

Yes OK, norovirus hasn’t happened yet. Maybe it won’t.

Some other school perhaps. Somewhere else. At least once a month, maybe more.

But not here. Not now – it’s basic germonomics

We just can’t afford it.

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Why cultures that eat with their hands are more germ-safe than we are

Indian family eating
More to savour, more to enjoy – and ALWAYS washing hands before anything

Germ-safe and healthy, despite what you might think.

Because whenever did you hear of a norovirus outbreak in India? Or Morocco? Or Thailand? Or Indonesia?

Not very often, right?

Not that it doesn’t happen.

Delhi belly is a world famous killjoy. But not always caused by overpowering curry.

More frequently, it’s accepted as as a lapse in ritual.

Hand hygiene is a way of life

Because the unbreakable etiquette in all countries that eat food with their fingers is – to always wash your hands first.

Not exactly what we do is it?

Though our whole lifestyle often involves eating with our fingers – sandwiches, wraps, pizza, burgers – hardly ever do we remember to wash our hands at all. Always assuming we can find a place to wash them in the first place.

It’s not in our culture, it’s not in our lifestyle.

And thanks to messy eating options like Nando’s or Sticky Fingers, we even get it backwards. That hand basin in the middle of the restaurant is for after, not before. Sticky fingers, smeary mouth. Right in front of everybody.

Weird.

Which shows just how iffy our knife and fork thinking is.

How can they be safer to eat with, or keep germs away, when our hands might have gone a whole day without washing? Office, bus, taxi, tube – plenty of places to pick up bugs. And pick them up off the fork into our mouths as we eat.

Respect your body’s temple

In Muslim countries, wudu or washing hands is pious ritual, far more than hygienic necessity. Being clean of body and mind is essential in all things about life. Hindus call it abhisheka . Among Jews it is netilat yadayim. All of them remove germs.Ritual washing

Not so ourselves, with our cruise-ship virus, our Don’t-Wash-Hands-Disease, our norovirus.

Beyond good, basic hygiene there is nothing in our culture to require us to wash our hands before meals – or at any other time. Hard statistics bear this out:

Unthinkable in cultures that eat with their hands. Probably even sacrilegious. Which when you reflect on the philosophy of My Body is a Temple makes a whole lot of sense.

Much better than writhing in agony with tummy cramps, violent vomiting and unbearable dairrhoea.

And look at the feel-good  people get from eating with their fingers. All senses working together to enjoy – seeing, touching, tasting, smelling, and hearing the sounds inside your mouth reminding you this is fun.

Wash our hands and we can have fun too.

Without the all-too-often queasy feeling that all is not well.

Enjoy!

Picture Copyright: Copyright: szefei / 123RF Stock Photo and alefbet / 123RF Stock Photo

Sugar tax, rubbish! Our kids are getting fat from antibiotics. Just like us.

Empty capsules
If we didn’t have antibiotics in the first place, none of this would have happened

Yes, we’re all getting fat. Us and our kids together.

In the last 20 years, something has started us. And since then we’re getting fatter and fatter.

Not from sugary drinks either, so a sugar tax will never work.

Just like it hasn’t worked in Mexico – a ho-hum failure after all the ra-ra.

Once upon a time, we were thin

We never used to be like this. Back in the 90s, we were all pretty trim. In the 80s and 70s, we were practically skinny.

But now, today, we’re a bunch of bulging porkers.

That’s 130 years after Coca Cola was invented (1886). 89 years after Lucozade (1927). And 70 years after Irn Bru (1946).

A few realities for the sugar taxers.

We were not fat when Coke started in the Nineteenth Century. We were not fat for most of the Twentieth Century, during which a whole slew of other popular drinks started.

Not in the 50s. Not in the 60s. Not in the 70s. And only some of us in the 80s.

So it’s not sugary drinks doing it. If Coke was the culprit, how come none of this getting fat business showed up in the first hundred years?

Fatter and fatter

But we ARE definitely getting fat.

On average, men are a whole stone heavier than in 1954 – and THREE INCHES bigger around the waist.  In the last 30 years alone, obesity rates have trebled.

And here’s the score. Two thirds of UK adults are already overweight or obese. So are one third of our kids.

OK, so try this little experiment.

Get yourself two 2-litre bottles of whichever of Public Health England’s super-bad guys you fancy. Now chug those two bottles, one after the other, all in one go.

Can’t be done, can it? Your body won’t let you. Too much of a good thing, your system can’t handle it. Which is natural, right? The body says NO to too much. In this case, too much bulk. There’s not enough space.

Which is what it’s supposed to do.

The same process works with everything we eat and drink. The body knows what it wants – and how much it wants. And shuts off when it’s had enough – satisfied.

But just  look at us. We ARE getting fat when we’re not supposed to. Especially kids.

The body’s NO switch is glitched and keeps saying YES. Nothing to do with Coke. How come?

The real villain

You’re not going to like this. Because it starts when worried Mums first take us to the doctor – fever, swollen glands and glazed eyes. Do something, do something, give us special medicine.

It’s when we first started on antibiotics.

Antibiotics, hmm. Always an iffy question with kids. But antibiotics are miracle drugs, so we push for them. And these days we strong-arm our GPs so much that 10 million of all prescriptions written out for antibiotics are unnecessary.

Worse, as helicopter parents, we keep pushing antibiotics over and over. Sniff, sniff, antibiotics. Teensy tummy problem, antibiotics. So for example, by the time they’re 20, the average American child has had antibiotics SEVENTEEN times.

Which leads us to the awkward truth that most doctors know but prefer not to talk about. That children given antibiotics by the age of two are likely to become obese by the time they’re five.

Huh?

Somehow antibiotics switch their metabolism so they DO drink too many sugary drinks. AND eat too much pizza. AND pig out on burgers with double fries. AND all the other high octane power foods people eat on the go when time is short.

Power food and drink

High octane foods, right? Not “junk”. There’s nothing bad in them to make the body ill. And there’s nothing wrong with the nutrition packed into them either. They just pack more of a charge than other foods – a super-quick boost that satisfies hunger fast.

Which is what the body goes for when its hunger switch says YES. Fill up now – quick, quick.

There might be no need, but that is what the hunger switch says. Go, Go, Go! And a burger you can eat with one hand walking down the street. A quick, high-nutrition charge in minutes.

So we’re getting fat, not because pop foods and drink are bad for us, but because our hunger switch is jammed on YES. We keep eating and keep eating. And like the drink-chugging experiment we tried a moment ago, we only stop when there’s physically no space for more.

All of which we can thank antibiotics for. And this getting fat business is no joke. Because our miracle drugs are the cause of a world-wide obesity epidemic that is rapidly taking us over.

How can we be so sure?

Super growth boosters

Well, who uses antibiotics?

The medical sector, yes. But did you know that around 80% of antibiotics used world-wide are actually used on farms to feed to livestock? 240 THOUSAND TONNES of them every year.

And do you know why?

Since antibiotics were first discovered, their major use has been as GROWTH BOOSTERS. They’re fed to animals to fatten them up. Make them develop bigger, meatier, faster.

Exactly what happens with us.

Every year they’re shovelled into the 1.4 billion cattle, 19 billion chickens, 1 billion sheep and 1 billion pigs that feed us. Vitally necessary to sustain the 7½ billion human beings we have become since our 2½ billion only 50 years ago. A rocketing threefold increase only possible through antibiotics.

And that’s why we’re getting fat.

Every day, every mouthful

Our starting shove is antibiotics we get from the quack while we’re small. Followed by daily top-up doses from the meat we eat laced with antibiotic residues.

And not just meat. The same animals’ manure fertilises our plant crops, so there’s antibiotics in all the fruit, grain and vegetables we eat too.

Because our metabolisms are so similar, our bodies respond like the animals do. They get fat, so we get fat. And with constant antibiotics in our ongoing diets, we keep getting fatter and fatter. Short of ignoring our bodies and eating less, there is no way to avoid it.

Which is why the whole sugar tax thing makes no sense. It’s treating symptoms, not cause. We might just as well tax spinach, or milk, or sausages. Choose any category, let’s tax that.

Yes, we eat and drink too much – but that’s everything across the board, not just sugary stuff.

The real issue is to control our antibiotics intake.

Next to impossible with the demands on world food supplies. Without them, production would fall to the way they were 50 years ago – and 5 billion people would go hungry.

In other words, keep using antibiotics or starve. Big problems for the medics, big problems for the farmers. But until our leaders sort that one out, we’re going to keep getting fat.

Can we top up your Coke?

Picture Copyright: kirillica / 123RF Stock Photo

Make norovirus gone – and stay gone!

GO AWAY lady
All those nasty bugs? They’ll have to GO now, you’ve got their number!

Actually, make ALL of them gone. All the tummy bugs – gastric flu, salmonella, campylobacter, e.coli, c.difficile. Whatever their fancy names are – make them totally gone.

All the other bugs as well – the colds, the twenty million types of flu, that foul rubbish MRSA and those full-of-themselves heavyweight jobs like TB, typhoid, cholera, ebola and zika.

Go away, gone, and don’t come back. Let us get on with living our lives. Just keep those germs away and staying away – we’ve all had enough.

It’s the “wash hands” thing, right?

Yeah, yeah, sure. We KNOW we’ve got to hike up our hygiene levels to do it – just don’t keep bugging us.

And get real too.

Yes, we know it’s important, but we’re not going wash our hands every five minutes. Like, get a life, where do you find soap and water, walking down the High Street? Ever tried to scrub your nails in the Underground?

Yes, we take chances and know we shouldn’t.

What, we’re going to stay home and hide under the bed instead?

So most of the time, we’re OK. Our hands don’t LOOK dirty. We live in a clean community with clean streets, fresh running water and proper sewage, we SHOULD be OK. And we’re most of us healthy, our immune systems kick in if there are any issues.

So what if we slip up now and then, and a bug gets through? Fix it!

OK, thanks for the antibacterial wipes and hand gel – should have thought of those. Easy to keep with us all the time, even down the High Street.

But what’s with this norovirus lark? The boomerang bug, or what? Keeps coming back, and back, and back. The clean-up squads go in there and do their stuff, three days later the gut-wrenching cramps, upchucks and runs are back again!

Same old, same old doesn’t work

Kinda says we should change the drill, doesn’t it? If gallons of bleach that pong like hell can’t fix it – or blokes in bunny suits squirting steam everywhere – what’s the point?

Pretty obviously that treatment isn’t getting to all the places it should. Bits get missed – and the darned virus is back again.

Not surprising with the gruesome way it works. Like “projectile vomiting”, what’s that about?

Only that bits of sick and puke wind up everywhere – not just where somebody hurls. Cleaning up the barf patch is all very nice, but how about everywhere else like these gaudy details in the National Geographic describe.

“Fine droplets released from sick people can float through the air and settle on food, on countertops, in swimming pools. They can survive freezing and heating and cleaning with many chemical disinfectants.”

Yeah? And how about those dark corners and underneath stuff? We need a new technique, and we need it NOW.

Fortunately there is one. And it works.

Gets rid of all the germs down to nothing, so there’s zip, nada, zilch to infect us. Zero germs, zero infection, what’s the problem?

The thing is called a Hypersteriliser, a nifty automatic machine about the size of a wheelie-bin. It’s made by the Halosil company in America.

And the hydrogen peroxide solution it uses is registered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA Registration No. 84526-6), approved to kill norovirus and rhinovirus, influenza, HIV and a whole stack of others.

Uh huh.

So what it does is mist up the place with an ultrafine spray of hydrogen peroxide. IONISED hydrogen peroxide.

Super performance. super protection

That means it’s electrostatically charged, so every microscopic particle is shoving like crazy to get away from itself. Spreading everywhere, jamming itself into tight spaces, reaching into places you never knew existed.

Total dispersal, right? Any germs hiding anywhere, this stuff is going to find them.

Plus, surprise- surprise, that electrostatic charge is opposite to the charge that viruses and bacteria have. Which means these particles grab hold and clamp on like superglue, never letting go.

Next, they ram oxygen atoms at them, ripping apart their cell structure and oxidising them to oblivion. Oh, and because they’re ionised, they create a whole slew of other germ-killers to aid and abet. Hydroxyl radicals, oxygen species, nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet. Boosted killing power.

Take that, varmints! Let’s see you come back from that!

You get the picture though. The place is germ-zero. Sterile nothing. You can’t catch no bugs because there aren’t any.

Which of course changes as soon as one of us waltzes in with our usual germ cloud in tow – yup, believe it or not, each of us has one. Plus of course whatever nasties we might have on our (did I wash my hands or didn’t I?) itching-to-get-to-work fingers.

Thing is though, that we won’t catch anything NEW. Our usual bugs are our usual bugs and we’ve been safe enough with them throughout the day until now. Step into a sterile room and we’re still safe. No nasty unseen surprises, we’re good to go.

Meanwhile all those other misery-guts germs are gone. ALL of them. And they ain’t coming back because there’s none of them lurking in dark corners to start a reinfection. Gone means gone. Sterile and secure until one of us brings in a NEW bug from outside.

But that’s another story.

Picture Copyright: darkbird / 123RF Stock Photo

So you escaped norovirus. Will you be so lucky when it comes back?

Escaping businessman
If it can come back to curse cruise ships four times in a row, it can come back to nail you too

It’s called “projectile vomiting” – a norovirus specialty. And you’re lucky you’ve never experienced it.

Yet.

Because, count on it – if your workplace has just been through an outbreak, that nasty norovirus is sure as eggs coming back. That projectile vomiting guarantees it.

The super-nasty gut bug

It’s just one of the ways this super-contagious health horror spreads itself. A gut-wrenching upchuck so violent it reaches across a whole room. So when some poor cleaner come to clear up the accident on the office carpet, all kinds of traces are left behind.

On the opposite wall, under the furthest desk, in the coils of computer cabling in the corner, or just floating in the air. It’s a virulent virus too – just 10 microscopic particles are enough to infect you. Contagious flu takes 25.

And at just 27 nanometres across, its particles are smaller than smoke – so light in the air they may never come down. But when they do, they’re able to survive on surfaces for weeks or more. All on things that never get cleaned – lift buttons, light switches, touchscreens and keypads.

Plus it’s not just the vomiting. The diarrhoea is violent too – equally able to spread in the air, to get itself everywhere despite meticulous scrubbing. Not to mention the end-of-the-world tummy cramps you have to live with. Unless you’re lucky.

So yes, you might have escaped the first outbreak. But unless your cleaning team have got into every nook and cranny – as well as scrubbing the air… You’re right in the line of fire when this boomerang baby comes bouncing back. And you’re gonna get it. Especially since outbreaks this year are up 45%.

Bad for business too

Unless of course, lucky for you, you have defensive measures. You’re ready with protection against this recurring vomiting bug that can cost thousands in sick pay, lost production, delayed contracts and missed opportunities.  And a bill to the NHS of a whopping £100 million a year.

Which means a Hypersteriliser and nothing less – the world’s best health protection system.

Press a button and the thing generates a dry superfine mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide that reaches everywhere, dispersed by electrostatic charge. That same charge grabs at ALL viruses and bacteria like a magnet. Oxygen atoms rip through them, oxidising them to oblivion.

Germ-free and safe

40 minutes later, the place is sterile. All surfaces, walls, ceiling and floor – even the air is bare of any microbes. No viruses, no bacteria, norovirus ripped to pieces along with its brothers and sisters. Safe, secure and germ-free.

Will norovirus be back after that? Not unless one of your staff walks in after sick leave without washing their hands and hits the button on the photocopier.

But that’s not going to happen is it? Because lucky you has already put packs of antibacterial wipes on every desk. The only thing that’s coming back now is your productivity level.

Could have been nasty, but with all that one-touch button-pushing,  you never felt a thing.

Lucky you.

Picture Copyright: olegdudko / 123RF Stock Photo